It was all designed by Adam Smith, the father of capitalism. He said grow the opium poppies in India, ship the product on British ships, sell it to the Chinese and send the profits to London. That way the gentry of England could buy furs from the Canadian colony to keep the Lords and their Ladies warm and dry. Today there are still 54 countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations that was built on the rape and pillage, greed and avarice that Adam Smith legitimatized.
And the tenuous thread that holds the motley assortment of countries in the Commonwealth together is the monarchy. There are still 16 of these nations that actually claim the British Monarch as their head of state. Some of the others have their own King, Queen or Leader for Life but these wannabes all play second fiddle and stand in awe of the wealth and substance of England’s sovereign.
But the Commonwealth is in failing health. Even with the British Queen herself making a guest appearance, some of the heads of state failed to make an appearance. Mind you, there are some of them who would be deposed if they made the mistake of leaving their country. There are even some who are attending who might not be head of state for long if Quantas Airline does not end its labour dispute and get them home soon.
One of the major problems of the Commonwealth is the lack of shared direction. If other Commonwealth heads disagree with a member’s approach to human rights, who is going to make them change? Expulsion from the Commonwealth is no longer the threat it used to be. Bribery might work but who is going to put up the big bucks?
As the last vestige of British colonialism, the Commonwealth has little to sustain it other than the generosity of Australia and Canada and the influence they, along with Great Britain, have on the Americans. What the Commonwealth might not be able to fund, the Americans might. The Americans are today’s imperialists.
What the Commonwealth has to recognize is that the British monarchy is on its last legs. The amused agreement to a change in Great Britain’s primogeniture laws in respect to the monarchy is a small band-aid. No Commonwealth leader is likely to go home and find his or her government will not support the change—except for Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. He might be in for a fight with the Church of England over the clause to let royals marry Catholics.
There is more than just the pomp and ceremony of its meetings for the Commonwealth. It is another avenue for communication and support between nations. It might have lost the commercial values promoted by Adam Smith but it offers additional communications between peoples. In that, it does some good.
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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